Greetings for Joy in 2021 were plentiful this year.  The year 2020 has given many reasons to wish others Joy in the coming year. More importantly, this unprecedented time challenged us to seek Joy from within and not depend on our circumstances or the people around us to give us Joy. We found more time to get out of our heads and into our hearts.

Finding and sharing Joy was not always easy.  Quarantines and “lockdowns” meant working from home, relying on retail or grocery delivery services. Many of us had fewer opportunities to connect in conventional ways.  In response, we banded together amidst the doom and gloom and found the contentment, delight, optimism, and gratitude in ourselves and shared it with others.  Organizations began to explore well-being and mindset, not just commitments, deadlines, efficiencies, and results.  Parents found fun ways to replace the traditional vacation with family activities created at home. Customers offered frequent words of thanks, larger tips, applause, and songs of appreciation for those who stayed on the job to serve us.  Many gave extra time and money to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

This year’s lesson learned is to experience what brings Joy from within.  It is a choice. It seems that adversity sets the stage for us to recognize more easily what brings us Joy. There is a high probability that challenging times are still ahead, that Joy will elude us, or our words of encouragement may go unnoticed. What brings on the emotion of Joy is not a cookie-cutter approach.  For some, it might be the pride associated with achieving a challenging goal, acquiring a new skill, or volunteering for a cause.  For others, there is the delight brought on by a new idea, building new relationships, or discovering activities that bring on laughter and fun.

We have an opportunity to act on Joy in 2021. As leaders, business owners, co-workers, teachers, friends, and parents, we can help others find their unique Joy vs. expect that “wishing Joy” will create the feelings that accompany it.  Here a few strategies you can use to start with yourself and share:

  1. Think of the past year and those moments in time when specific relationships, events, achievements, or activities brought you contentment, optimism, laughter, pride, or delight. These memories can help us produce neurochemicals such as oxytocin and serotonin to remain calm under stress or overwhelm, make better decisions, and access the innovative, compassionate part of our brains.
  2. Find ways to be of service. Perhaps you could be a resource to those less fortunate than yourself or find a cause or interest. Your time or mentorship, not just money, can also create feelings of pride as you help others to overcome a challenge or act on their ideas. In this way, those you support find the contentment and satisfaction that comes from achievement.
  3. Stop blaming yourself or others when you make mistakes or fail. A good practice is to take some time each day to identify one success and learning opportunity. This daily exercise can plant seeds of Joy in yourself as you continue to make progress without resorting to blame and guilt.
  4. When you run across someone whose personality, ideas, or actions trigger the worst in your behavior, such as clients, team members, or relatives, find one thing you can respect about them or their ideas. With reflection, you might find your reaction to their negative traits to be a mirror image of your less desirable behaviors. You can find Joy in learning something new about yourself and making a change. Your model can help others to do the same.

While we wished Joy for others in 2021, how can we ensure its promise?  What will it take to remember and continue the Joy we found in ourselves and encouraged in others during 2020? Let’s all go beyond the new year or special holidays to wish others Joy. Let’s choose to find Joy in ourselves and help others to do the same.  How will you rely on your heart, not just your head, and make Joy happen in 2021?

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